Blog Post / March 18, 2020 / Restaurant Industry

How To Get Started With Restaurant Delivery and Take-Out

by Lenny DeFranco
Lenny DeFranco

In the best of times, hospitality is the art of making your customers feel at home. Right now, they have that part taken care of.

With people staying indoors and restaurant foot traffic down, COVID-19 has opened up a new opportunity: delivery. If your loyal customers can't come into your dining room, it's time to bring your food into theirs.

For restaurants not yet set up for off-premise dining, these unfortunate circumstances offer a chance to tap into the food industry’s fastest-growing revenue channel. Food delivery worldwide is a $122 billion industry, expected to grow over 7% a year through 2024. A a third of all Americans use delivery services at least once a week, and 60% of restaurants say that offering delivery options has resulted in incremental revenue. Though the current pandemic will end, delivery is a revenue generator you’ll want to leverage for the long term.

Not sure how to get started? Don’t worry. Here’s how your restaurant can start taking orders, delivering meals, and minimizing the revenue impact of coronavirus with delivery service.

Click here if you're ready to get started now.

Create a simple, profitable menu with loyal guests in mind

The customers you’ll serve first and most often will likely be the regulars who most frequently visit your restaurant. Build a menu with them in mind.

It’s not necessary to make your entire menu available for order. Not every dish will transport well. Nor should you worry about having to jazz up your menu with new (read: untested) dishes. That’s not how you’ll cut through the noise of other delivery options. (Plenty of time for this when you’re more accustomed to delivery, and ideally , when foot traffic has resumed in your restaurant.)

What’s important is to offer dishes, preferably high-margin ones, that you know your regulars already know and love. Pull up the order history of these customers in your guest data portal. With this in mind, curate the menu you’ll offer for delivery.

Prioritize direct delivery when signing up for services

Next, get the right digital infrastructure in place by prioritizing a direct delivery channel over paid delivery options. Pretty much all delivery services will handle the logistics of delivery, but it’s important to know the difference between paid and direct delivery services.

Third-party delivery sites are useful channels for helping new customers discover your restaurant. This service costs anywhere from 10 – 30% of each order total. On these sites, your restaurant will appear alongside every other in your geographic area, distinguished only by the number of dollar signs and star rating given to your restaurant. When a new customer decides to order from you, you won’t know anything about them beyond their name and address. Third-party delivery sites do not share customer data with restaurants.

Direct delivery, on the other hand, costs a fraction of the third-party fees, boosting the profit of each order. It also captures data directly from the customer, which lets you own the relationship and re-engage them later for delivery and dine-in business.

Click here to learn more about getting started with direct delivery.

Research shows that customers also prefer direct delivery. In research on UK customers, delivery app Preoday found that 70% of customers preferred to order from restaurants directly. In the US, 30% of customers who didn’t use third-party apps made that decision because they would rather order directly from restaurants.

These are your patrons, after all. They want to see their money go to your business, not a middleman — especially at a time like this. In a world in which 54% of delivery customers actually start off with a specific restaurant in mind and go online to find them, make sure your primary channel for taking orders is one that you own.

Leverage your reservation database to drive orders

With the menu and the infrastructure in place, it’s time to tell customers that your delivery operation is open for business.

Market your delivery service on every channel you have. Put it on your website — prominently. Add it to your social media channels. Most importantly, reach out to your customer database with the announcement that you’ve opened for food delivery.

For your closest regulars, you could even text or call them with the news. As with all marketing, the more personalized you can make the outreach, the better. If guest data reveals a set of regulars who consistently order a specific dish, let them know their favorite offering from your menu is now available for delivery. You could even throw in special quarantine-time extras to make it special.

When you reach out to your database, consider highlighting the boost that delivery will offer your business during this difficult time. Make it an appeal; make it exciting. However you decide to notify your customers, get the word out.

Sample text for notifying customers about delivery

Here is some sample copy we’ve drafted to inspire your own delivery notification emails.

Email copy 1: In response to mandated closings

Subj: [VENUE] now available for delivery

Dear Guest,

With the recent closing of our restaurant due to government mandates in [CITY], we’re doing our part to ensure your health and safety.

Since you can’t dine in with us at the moment, we’re excited to announce that we are now able to bring our food to you. Click here to access our brand-new delivery offerings.

Rest assured, we are taking extraordinary measures to ensure our food is prepared in safe conditions.

We can’t wait until you’re able to join us again. Until then, your support for our business is greatly appreciated. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Stay safe!

Email copy 2: A little more upbeat

Subj: Miss us? We have good news.

Dear Guest,

Our mission has always been to serve our community delicious food and amazing experiences. As our world continues to shift, we’re excited to announce that we now offer direct delivery, bringing our food straight to your door.

To check out our menu and place an order, head to our website here. Please note, our management is keeping a close eye on this evolving situation and is implementing the highest level of sanitation as we bring the experience of [VENUE] to you.

Your support is greatly appreciated, and we can’t wait to see you soon!

Email copy 3: An appeal from your business

Subj: Support [venue] with all-new delivery options

To Our Community:

As of [MONTH DATE], 2020, [CITY] restaurants and bars have been mandated to close for on-premise service.

While the impact of this decision is already being felt by our industry, amongst the uncertainty, one thing remains the same: our unwavering dedication to our customers.

So you don’t miss out on [VENUE] while at home, you can now order delivery directly online via our website. Please consider supporting our business by ordering for you, your roommates or family while our restaurant is closed. We look forward to bringing our service directly to you,

From our family to yours, we deeply appreciate your business during this trying time.

Always here to serve you,
[VENUE]

 

Drive repeat orders with email automation

Owning the guest relationship with direct delivery means more than paying a smaller commission. It also means you can engage directly with customers to drive repeat business — both delivery and, eventually, dine-in.

Email automation streamlines this process. With a reduced staff, your restaurant won’t be able to devote as many resources as you normally might to customer marketing. Automating this process takes that burden off your staff. It keeps your restaurant top-of-mind for loyal customers and makes repeat orderers out of people trying your restaurant’s delivery for the first time.

Re-engaging customers also drives dine-in business. When COVID-19 passes, the people who have become repeat customers of your delivery offering will be much more likely to join you in your restaurant — especially if you offer dine-in promotions alongside or as part of your delivery offerings, as some restaurants are doing.

Most importantly, engaging with delivery customers on a continual basis ensures that everything you do to survive through the coronavirus shutdown actually adds up to long-term value for your restaurant. According to mobile delivery app LevelUp, customers who place an online delivery order with a restaurant are 67% more likely to visit that restaurant in-person. Direct delivery sets you up for continued revenue even beyond coronavirus, both in your dining room and out.

Conclusion

The current crisis has challenged restaurants unlike anything we’ve ever seen. These difficult times require solidarity and creativity. Luckily, rolling with the punches is one thing restaurant operators can do better than anyone else.

If coronavirus is guiding you towards offering delivery for the first time, rest assured this is a world that can be profitable and help you own more customer relationships for the long term. Direct delivery, combined with third-party delivery channels, is an exciting and growing revenue opportunity in our industry. And it’s powerful enough that, even when things return to normal, you can expect it to remain an important part of your business.

Want to own your customer relationships? Speak to our team about getting started with direct delivery.

About the Author

Lenny DeFranco

Lenny DeFranco writes about the data transformation of dining and hospitality for SevenRooms. Contact with story ideas and life questions at lenny.defranco@sevenrooms.com.

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